LIVE: “Weird Al” Yankovic Takes the Hollywood Bowl (7/23/2016)

The entertainer’s gravitas was undeniable in the glow of the Bowl—his first time playing with a live orchestra.

“Weird Al” Yankovic
July 23, 2016
Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood, California

“Comedy nerd” is a term that’s used loosely these days, as if anyone who laughs at an Amy Schumer joke or dedicates themselves to Joe Rogen’s nine-hour podcast has to define themselves as one.

But then there’s “Weird Al” Yankovic. Call yourself a Game of Thrones fan, a podcast dork, an MCU fan, or whatever, but there always has been an alternatively unifying and divisive presence in the world of true nerdom. And his name is “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Thing is, you’re not really a comedy nerd unless you like “Weird Al.” And the top echelon of Yankovic’s fans—a lot of young kids, which fifty-year-old artists don’t typically seem to attract (apologies to Yanni)—represented their affinity for him at what could best be described as the Super Bowl of Nerd Humor. For all his hit songs, “Weird Al” shows still draw a mongrel crowd of cos-players, hot-dog eaters and soda drinkers, and nerds of the highest order.

The latest stop on Al’s years-long “Mandatory Fun” tour took place over two nights at LA’s pre-eminent music venue, the 17,500-capacity Hollywood Bowl. He was supported throughout by conductor Thomas Wilkins and his esteemed Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, who gave Al’s songs an orchestral dimension he could never have envisioned when he sent his lo-fi accordion tunes to radio novelty DJ Dr. Demento (still seventy-five years young!) in the late ’70s.

And here Al was on Saturday night, about thirty-five years later, the biggest-selling comedy recording artist in history, playing a ninety-minute show that’s certainly among the biggest of his career.

For all his hit songs, “Weird Al” shows still draw a mongrel crowd of cos-players, hot-dog eaters and soda drinkers, and nerds of the highest order.

The white-and-nerdy resident of Downey, California—still home to the longest-running McDonald’s franchise in the world—further cemented a career that has kept him stunningly healthy and able to deliver more costume changes than Tim and Eric—and with more voracious speed.

Between those changes, Al kept the momentum going (read: distracting kids from the cell phones) by splicing in clips from his classic MTV videos (“Fat”) and woefully under-appreciated UHF movie. Variety, versatility, visual elements—these are Al’s and butter (and bolognas).

To marvel at how the fifty-six-year-old Yankovic has brought together music, comedy, and entertainment fans ranging from young families to pimply nerds to hipsters to crusty drunks is, in and of itself, marvelous, even if the kids around this writer didn’t get the full scope of it; they were far more interested in hearing “Tacky” and “Foil” than they were in experiencing the joys of Stanley Spadowski’s mop, bologna sandwiches, and Rocky Road bars. But there was a joy in sharing those novelty items with them—an infectious joy that “Weird Al,” and only “Weird Al,” has unwaveringly delivered during decades marked elsewhere by conceit, sarcasm, and cynicism.

Back in the ’90s, surf-rock band Man… or Astroman? “cloned” themselves so as to further disseminate among the masses. This writer kinda wishes Yankovic would do that. But there can only be one “Weird Al.”

Set List

[Set 1]
“Now That’s What I Call Polka!”
“Perform This Way”
“Dare to be Stupid”
“Smells Like Nirvana”
“Eat It”/”I Lost on Jeopardy”/”I Love Rocky Road”/”Like a Surgeon”
“White and Nerdy”
“Word Crimes”
“Amish Paradise”

“We All Have Cell Phones”
“The Saga Begins”


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